Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Phoenix Suns vs. The Sacramento Kings




This shot is from the pre-game pyrotechnics.

I had never been to an NBA game and Andrew had expressed interest in going to see The Suns play sometime. So for Valentine's day this year, we got tix.

I've been taking a visual culture class so I saw a lot of the game though the lens of the theory I've been reading. For example, the coordination between the use of the big screens and the actual game was perfectly orchestrated in such a way that it struck me as difficult to decide whether to watch what I had paid to see happening "in real life" or watch it as it was being projected on the screen. Trippy.

What else struck me?

The ADD appeal: There were half time distractions during ten minute breaks, there were cheerleaders, dancers, mascots, free cupcakes, tee shirt throws, fan free throws, kids on screen, hamburger raffles, and so much random distracting stuff going on that at times I forgot there were basketball players on the court at all.

The Product Placement: If you were entering the building, sitting in the right section, exiting the building, sitting in the wrong section, could answer trivia or couldn't answer trivia, you could win a product. There was everything from Maytag laundry machines to Dove body wash. (Cleanliness = basketballness?)

The Cost: The tickets were expensive. The parking was expensive. We ate at The Hard Rock Cafe across the street and that was expensive, but not as expensive as the plethora of food and drink options in the US Airways Center. The gas to get to Phoenix was expensive. The whole date probably cost us around $200.

Was it worth it? Sure, but once is enough to see the American Spectacle that is an NBA game.

p.s. I was really surprised to realize how poor on the free throw Shaq is, how short Steve Nash is, and that Leandro Barbosa is Brazilian. Cool!

Feijoada at Fiorito's



Randomly one Saturday afternoon Andrew and I were shopping at The Paris Flea Market (I love that place!) and we decided to have lunch. Fiorito's was sort of across the street. But I wanted to go to 1702. When we got there I remembered that they don't open until 5:00 on Saturdays.

We turned around to go back to Fiorito's but Andrew had me call first to make sure they were open. The owner answered and said "Well, our usual menu doesn't start until 3:00, but we're serving feijoada right now."

I would've never guessed, since the place looked totally closed. But sure enough, when we walked in the door we were seated by a kindly professor from Latin American Studies and served caipirinhas immediately. My kind of day.

Feijoada is not easy to find since it takes several hours to prepare. It's a traditional Brazilian meal (as pictured above). Turns out, a wonderful Brazilian woman from Tucson prepares serves it up at Fiorito's (her son's restaurant) once a month. Why is this Tucson's best kept secret? (Fiorito's website doesn't even mention it.)

Well, whatever the situation may be, I had them put me on the mailing list so I would be prepared for the next feijoada. Now I feel like a special member of the "Secret Feijoada Club". My stomach is thankful for that!

Ozlem Silverstein's Art at Rancho Linda Vista Gallery




The first image is Andrew in the gallery with dog, the second a bathtub virgin on the Rancho Linda Vista grounds.

After Biosphere 2 we went to Rancho Linda Vista Gallery for the opening of Ozlem Silverstein's artist reception offered to open her exhibit: Faces of War. Rancho Linda Vista is a neat place tucked away in Oracle. Even the gallery's bathroom has some interesting artwork not to be missed (like a piece constructed entirely of press-on plastic fingernails).

Ozlem's pieces on war focuses on faces that range from those of American and Middle eastern soldiers to those of their mothers, to those of the victims of Abu Graib to the faces of George Bush himself. I found the digital paintings to be especially compelling. Overall the art struck me as powerfully honest.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Biosphere 2





After three years of curiosity, we finally made it out to Biosphere 2. For full background info on the project, check out this Wikipedia article. To sum it up in my terms, it was built by eccentric millionaire Edward Bass a la Howard Hughes to "better understand how natural environments create habitable conditions for human sustainability" - in other words, build a space colony. The goal was to make the whole structure almost completely independent of the outside world - and sustainable. That means all aspects of the five biomes are controlled (temperature, rainfall, sunlight, etc.)

It's a fascinating concept scientifically and the building is a feat of engineering. But what I liked the most about it was the human history involved.

Chances are, depending on your age, you may have heard about Biosphere 2 when the first mission took place from September 26, 1991 to September 26, 1993. The crew included four female and four male researchers who were to prove they could live sustainably in the Biosphere for two years. So nineties, eh? Well, as expected, put eight people in a fishbowl for two years and what do you get? Drama! The group purportedly divided into factions based on what they believed the "real research purpose" of the experiment to be. And yes, there was screwing. At least one couple resulted from the whole thing.

No, I didn't get this info from the tour (although I did get to imagine how it all went down while browsing through the part of the biosphere that had been the researchers' living quarters. Picture of their dining table above). I got the info from a person who shall remain nameless who works for a place that shall remain unnamed in a capacity that shall remain unrevealed...aren't you intrigued?

We followed up our field trip with a screening of the movie Biodome(1996) at my place. It was quite possibly the worst movie EVER.

The Tucson 800 Dogs and Then Some



This is the puppy who started it all for me. Who knew this tiny puppy would inspire me to become a Chihuahua rights activist of sorts?

As you might have seen in the news by now, we were "off" with the numbers. The hoarders didn't have 100 dogs. They had nearly 800, which are being referred to as "the Tucson 800" by some.

It was funny. We were in bed already when a friend texted me. "Just saw the news - 800!" it read. I thought she must have accidentally added a zero. Andrew and I got up and looked online for news. Our jaws dropped!

Of course, Arizona Chihuahua Rescue wanted us to take one or two immediately, but we still had Duckie so we didn't have the space. Since then, however, Luckie Duckie has been adopted out at Muttropolis (yesterday, as a matter of fact). All three of the rescue dogs were adopted within two hours!

BUT, we still don't have space for even one of the Tucson 800 because lo and behold - we rescued a dog off the sidewalk on Friday! We got in the car and drove past a little scruffy dog running down our street. He was nipping at a guy on a bicycle. "Is that your dog?" we asked? Of course it wasn't. "It's making me nervous that it might get hit by a car" he replied. We agreed. I followed the dog about two blocks, Andrew got me a lead, some dog treats and we scooped him up.

Now what? We knew we couldn't take him to the overwhelmed PACC or Human Society. We called the AZ Chi Rescue and asked for advice. Even though he was obviously not a chihuahua, they agreed to absorb him into the program.

Scruffy appeared to be a terrier-yorkie mix or something. We took him to Broadway Animal Hospital for vaccines (see footnote). His fur was matted and dirty, his teeth covered in tartar, his claws overgrown, his balls obviously unaltered. It was hard to tell how long he had been on the street. He wasn't wearing a collar. What else could we do with him?

We're picking him up from Broadway tomorrow. Let's see how he does in our home.

In the mean time, people have responded to the hype of the Tucson 800 rushing to adopt - which makes me happy - BUT not all is well. There has already been at least one chihuahua who was adopted (from PACC or the Human Society, I'm not certain) who was then returned within 24 hours for being a "biter" and promptly put to sleep. The problem is, you can't assess a dog who has been through this sort of trauma within 24 hours! They are not necessarily biters. At least one of the chis in our group's care was nippy for three days before she mellowed out and became herself - a perfectly normal dog. I mean really, you can't expect immediate perfect behavior from animals who have been bred in the Avra Valley circumstances!

That's why the Arizona Chihuahua Rescue is taking their time preparing the dogs we've absorbed for adoption. The dogs need to be assessed, altered, trained and socialized a little before we can just place them with new owners who may or may not know what to expect! That's why none of our Avra Valley rescues are online yet, much to many people's dismay...

The most important message I want to get out there is, don't give up on your rescue dog so fast! And please don't take any animals to PACC or the Human Society right now because a likely outcome is that you are sending them to their death...

Footnote: I noticed that The Broadway Animal Hospital has gotten a number of poor reviews online. Yes, it is true that Dr. Muller can be strike some as blunt or gruff, and the locale is pretty bare bones. Yet, in Broadway's defense, I have to say that the fact that they do everything in a "minimalist" way is what allows them to get so many dogs medical care for such a low price. I don't know how Arizona Chihuahua Rescue would function without them!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Arizona Chihuahua Rescue - Meet Duckie



Duckie is our second foster. She's an elegant and sweet Chihuahua/Miniature Pinscher mix. What a cutie, eh? She'll be up for adoption Saturday March 15 at Muttropolis and her profile will be up at the Arizona Chihuahua Rescue Website soon!

NEWS UPDATE! The Human Society is visiting a chihuahua hoarder tomorrow (March 11) and Arizona Chihuahua Rescue has agreed to take half of the dogs, so we really need all the help we can get! If you have been thinking about fostering, now is a great time to volunteer...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cactus Moon on a Rodeo Weekend: Yee Haw



Definitely, Cactus Moon on a rodeo weekend is not a thing to be missed.

After having dinner with a group of anthropologists, Andrew and I took our antho spirit to the club. It was good field research.

I had never been to Cactus Moon, so the sheer size and volume of people alone was pretty impressive for Tucson in my opinion. Not to mention, almost every one there was "authentically" country. What I mean is, if you were wearing a cowboy hat, you were wearing a real cowboy hat, maybe one you even bought at the vendor on the premises! But what you were definitely NOT wearing was one of those "fashion" cowboy hats. This has to be a hat that will really stay on while you ride a horse, you dig?

In pointing out the symbolic capital of the authentic cowboy hat, I don't mean to say that the scene was stereotypical. No siree. For example, I saw a woman dressed like Delta Burke from Designing Women on the dance floor. I am not exaggerating. She tore her cowboy's shirt off and made sweet mouth love to his bare chest during "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy".

I also must comment on the music. Fine two-steppin' was periodically interrupted by dance music and some flat out hip hop. As a matter of fact, I think I heard Rapper's Delight at least once. People did not boo the cowboy DJ, they cheered for more and shook their Wrangler-clad booties with as much gusto as they shook 'em to Garth Brooks. Women jumped up on bars in the spirit of Coyote Ugly. Joy abounded.

I found the crowd, bouncers and bartenders to be mostly nice - polite even. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I also felt there was a greater heterogeneity of women's body types and dress than you might find at a regular club.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Arizona Vinyards: Wine Tasting at its Funnest



Our dear friend Liz had a birthday recently, so we drove to Sonoita for a day of wine tasting and celebration. It was a rainy, cold weekend but that only made the experience all the cozier.

We went to Sonoita Vinyards first where we learned about the wine history of the region. In the days of Father Kino Jesuit monks grew communion grapes, but wine didn't become an industry in the area until the 1970s when a soil scientist from the University of Arizona realized that the soil in the area was much like that of Burgundy, France and proposed experimenting with different grape cultivation.

The tasting at Sonoita Vinyards was pretty serious. We got cheese and chocolate to compliment certain wines. We got a pamphlet describing all the wines we were tasting, which we numbered and wrote notes on quite scientifically. At that point we were sober wine appreciators.

Moving on to our next destination, The Village of Elgin Winery, we encountered a completely different ambiance. Wine was served in a dark room filled with clutter, including samurai masks and other Asian artifacts (?) Turns out the building was erected in 1895 as a Bordello. The gentleman who poured our wines was wearing a baby blue hoodie and did not provide much info about the wines beyond what was on a photocopied list. It was much more informal, to say the least. He poured, we drank, and wrote notes on the photocopy like, "Sweet!; Syrupy; Candy wine; Dessert wine; This wine will put you in a sugar coma" etc. But Liz loves sweet wine so it was perfect. The only wines I wouldn't recommend were the Tombstone Gunslinger and the Blanc de Merlot that very distinctly smelled like funky body odor to me!

We then went to Keif Joshua Vinyards where we tasted 5 wines, one of them a really tasty Merlot (2003). Keif Joshua Manning poured them for us himself unceremoniously while wearing a backward baseball cap. There were a number of excellent dips and wine crackers for tasting and purchase, also.

Now giggling incessantly, we headed over to Callaghan Vineyards where we enjoyed some great grape mixes using Spanish varieties in particular. Despite our lack of seriousness, this was probably one of the more serious vineyards we visited. The Padres 2004 was my favorite. Smoother than a straight Tempranillo, this wine also includes a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Our last tasting involved petting lazy dogs at Rancho Rossa. I can't remember anything about the wines, but I remember the people were really nice and there were paintings of Jerry Garcia on the walls.

To end our day, we had a late lunch at the western themed Steak Out Rest and Saloon. It was rustic and cozy. The food was good and there was even live music. Contented, we enjoyed the views of the misty Arizona countryside all the way home.